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Addictive Chocolate Manhattan: Your Weekend Sip Is Here!

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This Chocolate Manhattan is a delicious and decadent cocktail to make at the end of a long day at work or after a great meal. It’s also delicious when batched and kept chilled in the freezer for guests or a quick pour after work. One thing makes this drink truly fantastic – high-quality creme de cacao. Don’t skimp on getting the good stuff if you can find it. It makes this cocktail one you can’t stop drinking.

And for those of you without a sweet tooth, I’ll add some modifications you can make to tone down the sweetness by adjusting the ratios a bit. 

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What is a Manhattan Cocktail?

The Manhattan cocktail has a muddy history. One legend has it that it came to fame during a party thrown by Winston Churchill’s mother for a political candidate. Unfortunately, for that legend, she was in England at the time giving birth to Sir Winston. 

The more likely story is that it was popularized in the 1880s at an establishment called the Manhattan Club in New York. However it came to be, it quickly spread from New York across the country in the late 1800s and today is a classic whiskey cocktail.

However it came about, it’s now considered a whiskey classic. It has a simple recipe – just whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The ratio of vermouth to whiskey and the choice of whiskey can be polarizing among whiskey lovers. 

The general ratio is 2 oz whiskey to 1 oz sweet vermouth, but some whiskey aficionados prefer 2 ½ oz whiskey to as little as ½ oz sweet vermouth. Angostura bitters are the most frequent additions to Manhattans, but some (like me) prefer orange or cherry bitters in a great Manhattan based on the inherent flavors in the whiskey.

For background information on the Manhattan, its history, and the basics on how to make one, head to my article How to Make a Classic Manhattan

Why a Chocolate Manhattan?

Whiskey lovers often detect chocolate notes in the nose or flavor of bourbon and whiskey. Building a Manhattan to bolster those flavors in a cocktail just means adding a bit of chocolate liqueur and chocolate bitters to a classic Manhattan drink.

Flavors in this Chocolate Manhattan

While I’ve made raspberry chocolate and peanut butter chocolate Manhattans before, I wanted to step back and just think about the combination of flavors that works best to pair whiskey with chocolate in a more classic Manhattan cocktail.

Let’s talk about flavors. I started with a simple sweet vermouth – Noily Pratt rouge, and added one of the best chocolate liqueurs I’ve ever had – Tempus Fugit’s creme de cacao. It’s infused with vanilla so it’s a perfect in bourbon cocktails. In a pinch any creme de cacao will do, but I’d suggest infusing some creme de cacao with a split vanilla bean to enhance that flavor in the cocktail.

In addition to the chocolate and sweet vermouth. I added Scrappy’s Chocolate bitters and also just a few drops of Scrappy’s Firewater. The Firewater is extremely spicy – almost like adding liquid cayenne or habanero to a cocktail. I add just a drop or two to add some very subtle heat to the mouthfeel.

If you don’t have any creme de cacao I would suggest using the method in this article How to Make Chocolate Infused Whiskey Like a Boss to infuse the sweet vermouth with cacao nibs, and add ½ oz simple syrup to the drink. 

How to Make a Chocolate Manhattan

Like all Manhattans, this cocktail is a breeze to put together. You’ll spend more time locating the ingredients than you will pouring and straining into your prepared glass.

Any great Manhattan should be served in a chilled coupe glass. In this case, we want to rim the glass with chocolate shavings. Dip the rim of the coupe glass in simple syrup, or use a brush to apply it in a swath on the outer edge. Next, dip the rim into chocolate shavings. Place in the freezer to chill while you make the cocktail.

To build the cocktail, put the bourbon, the sweet vermouth, the creme de cacao, the chocolate bitters, and the firewater into a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir for 30 seconds and strain into the chilled couple glass. Add a dark chocolate truffle if you like.

How to Adjust the Sweetness of the Manhattan to Make it Drier

This cocktail is sweet and decadent, even balanced with chocolate bitters. But for some cocktail lovers it may be too sweet. In that case there are a few modifications to adjust the flavor to your preferred level of sweetness.

The best way to make this cocktail drier is to reduce the amount of creme de cacao and increase the amount of sweet vermouth and balance with more bitters if needed. 

You can also use a whiskey with more earthy or oak flavors, or one with a good deal of spice like a 95% rye mash bill whiskey. (Think of the delicious combination of chocolate and chili peppers – you can enjoy the same combination if you select a spicy whiskey).

In addition, you can swap out the garnish for the cocktail, using cocoa powder instead of chocolate shavings for the rim of the glass. That will reduce the sweetness of the chocolate, replacing it with bitter unsweetened cocoa powder.

Here’s a Chocolate Manhattan recipe that’s not as sweet:

  • 2 oz bourbon 
  • ¼ oz creme de cacao
  • ¾ oz sweet vermouth
  • 4 dashes chocolate bitters
  • 1-2 drops firewater bitters
  • Garnish: rim glass with cocoa powder

Add the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir for 30 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe glass rimmed with cocoa powder.

How to Make a Batch of Chocolate Manhattans

This recipe is spirit forward so it’s an easy one to batch with my Easiest Method Ever to Batch a Cocktail for a Party (Galantines, Valentines, or Friendsgiving anyone?).

What If You’d Like to Make a Chocolate Cherry Manhattan

Chocolate pairs well with many other flavors, from fruit, to nuts to spice. One classic combination is chocolate and cherry – which always makes me think of chocolate covered cherries!

Just a small tweak of ingredients creates a refreshing and seasonal cocktail treat in a Chocolate Cherry Manhattan. I prefer to use Luxardo Marachino liqueur rather than Cherry Heering, but some people prefer Cherry Heering. 

One way to build cherry and chocolate flavors in the Chocolate Cherry Manhattan is to use both chocolate and cherry bitters in addition to chocolate and cherry liqueur. Here’s a great recipe for a Chocolate Cherry Manhattan:

  • 1 ¾ oz bourbon 
  • ½ oz sweet vermouth
  • ½ oz creme de cacao
  • ¼ oz cherry liqueur
  • 2 dashes cherry bitters
  • 2 dashes chocolate bitters

Add the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir for 30 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe glass rimmed with chocolate shavings.

Other Cocktails You Might Enjoy

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Recommended Bar Tools

You don’t need every slick, beautiful bar tool out there, but there are several I’ll recommend. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect the cost of the items below.) My favorite pieces:

You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:

coupe glass with chocolate manhattan and rimmed with chocolate shavings and garnished with chocolate truffle

Chocolate Manhattan

Heather Wibbels
Enjoy this delicious and sweet Chocolate Manhattan with bourbon, creme de cacao and chocolate bitters as an easy after-dinner cocktail.
No ratings yet
Total Time 3 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine Bourbon Cocktail
Servings 1

Ingredients
  

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • ½ oz sweet vermouth
  • ½ oz creme de cacao
  • 3 dashes Scrappy's chocolate bitters
  • 1-2 drops Scrappy's firewater spicy bitters (optional)
  • Garnish: chocolate shavings

Instructions
 

  • Dip the rim of a coupe glass in simple syrup or maple syrup.
  • Dip the rim in chocolate shavings. Chill the glass in the freezer.
  • Add ingredients to a mixing glass.
  • Fill with ice
  • Stir for 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a prepared coupe glass.

Notes

Notes: Drier/Less Sweet Chocolate Manhattan
  • 2 oz bourbon 
  • ¼ oz creme de cacao
  • ¾ oz sweet vermouth
  • 4 dashes chocolate bitters
  • 1-2 drops firewater bitters
  • Garnish: rim glass with cocoa powder
Method: build as above
Keyword chocolate, chocolate bitters, manhattan, sweet vermouth
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on February 5th, 2022

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey enthusiast (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location

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2 thoughts on “Addictive Chocolate Manhattan: Your Weekend Sip Is Here!”

  1. Oh dear lord that looks awesome! Question: could I replace the creme de cacao with Godiva chocolate liquor? I’ll try it anyway and let you know. And thanks for keeping us awash in amazing cocktails!

    Reply

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